- by Richard Titelius
- The Guardian
- Issue #1952
On Thursday the 25th of February 2021, Politics in the Pub (Perth) discussed Climate Change and the environment – the pressing issue of our times, and how we deal with it will determine humankind’s future. The session was chaired by Elizabeth Hulm, CPA Perth branch secretary who quoted from the new booklet, Fighting for the Future, by Dr Hannah Middleton, stating: “Climate change will not affect everyone equally. The poorest and most vulnerable will be hardest hit as sea levels rise, storms intensify, and droughts and unpredictable weather patterns rob farmers of their livelihoods.”
The first speaker was Anthony Collins, from 350.org.au, the lead author of the report, “Captured State,” released last year. One of the aspects covered in the report is the close relationship between the McGowan government and the gas lobby, specifically the two biggest corporations, Woodside and Chevron. Collins said that WA was the greatest source of carbon emissions in Australia, and just five facilities produced twenty-seven per cent of all WA’s emissions. The closeness of the relationship was demonstrated in 2019 by Premier Mark McGowan’s attendance at a board meeting of Woodside. This coincided with the Woodside board awaiting a decision from the McGowan government on its operations. Collins highlighted that a revolving door between industry and government was evident by looking at appointments which saw four out of the last five WA governments employing staff from the oil and gas industry to work as consultants and senior public servants.
The next speaker, environmental activist Paddy Cullen, said that for 80,000 years we had a good relationship with the environment. However, anthropogenic climate change has brought rising sea levels to low lying areas of the world, desertification, forest fires, floods, and landslides in other regions and melting permafrost and ice in the world’s arctic regions. These changes lead to stress on our natural world, leading to species loss such as the numbat of which only 1000 exist in the wild in WA. WA is a global biodiversity zone, but resolute action is needed to preserve the habitats upon which the plants and animals depend.
The third speaker was John Fegebank, a student activist who raised the idea that capitalists themselves could be divided into two camps: denialists or opportunists, neither of which want to take real action on the climate crisis. In the denialist camp, media magnates such as Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes deny the issue as it would hurt their profits and interests. They downplay and confuse the issue by saying there has always been climate change, that the science is not settled, that disagreements continue on the causes.
Opportunists, represented by figures such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk, try to project the image of not being directly involved while enhancing their profitability by being involved in ongoing exploitation. Elon Musk has embarked on a space race, but as Fegebank said, we have a good planet here and need take action to address the profit motive that got us into this mess in the first place.
Hulm concluded that what is needed is a socialist revolution. A better world is possible, a world where decisions about production are based on human needs, not generating profits for the few and where we will no longer rely on carbon-based fuels producing energy.
The CPA advocates socialism where decisions about what is produced and how it is produced are based on meeting human need and are made by those who produce. Fighting for the Future is available from the CPA Shop (orders by email: firstname.lastname@example.org $6 plus P&H).